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Saturday, October 28 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Bosch, Bruegel, and the Depiction of Extreme Conditions

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One of the world’s top art historians, a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, and an accomplished painter will team up for an enthralling exploration of art and the extreme conditions of life. Renowned art historian and Senior Fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard Joseph Koerner’s latest is Bosch and Bruegel: From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life. This gorgeous work has been described as magisterial, gripping, erudite, and shatteringly poetic by a variety of enthusiastic critics. Koerner argues that Bosch, whose paintings depict contempt for the world and the apocalyptic folly of human existence, conceived of everyday life as “enemy territory.” Bruegel portrays all the same pitfalls, but shows the enemy isn’t diabolical. It’s human folly that undoes us. These two artists invented “genre” painting and paved the way for modern art. Koerner packs his work with details that underscore the social and political relevance of art in his analysis of painting in a “state of emergency.” Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard professor Jorie Graham will begin this session with a piece from her new volume of poems, Fast, which, while deeply personal, also reminds us of our interconnectedness in the face of environmental, social, and political crisis. Moderator Peter Sacks, professor of English at Harvard, author of five books of poetry, and an internationally recognized painter whose work blends myth, memory, and history, will tie together a fascinating session on art and meaning-making in the extreme conditions of life. This session is generously sponsored by the John and Cynthia Reed Foundation.

avatar for Peter Sacks

Peter Sacks

Peter Sacks is a South African poet and scholar and the John P. Marquand Professor of English at Harvard University. His poetry often focuses on the dichotomy of life and conflict in South Africa, particularly during the apartheid period in which he grew up. He has published several... Read More →

avatar for Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham crafts boundary-pushing work that explores art, history, and concepts of femininity and masculinity. Graham had a European upbringing and a cosmopolitan French education, studying philosophy at the Sorbonne before earning a BA in film from... Read More →
avatar for Joseph Leo Koerner

Joseph Leo Koerner

Joseph Leo Koerner is a respected scholar and art historian and is currently the Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard. For nearly three decades, he has taught art history and studies in modern art at Harvard University, the University of Frankfurt... Read More →

Saturday October 28, 2017 2:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
BPL Rabb Hall